The Making of T/9i Red Ltd. Edition
Yes, it’s gorgeous. Yes, that truly is the color you think it is (our legal eagles would rather I don’t mention a certain Italian company’s name). Yes, it costs $585 per gallon (plus the cost of not one, but two, differing layers of special primer beneath).
But that, as it turns out, is not the real story—the one that matters. You see, during the course of this project, we got to revisit and relearn newfound appreciation for the basic amazing goodness that is the T/9i. Powerful, fluid, dynamic and good at seemingly everything a system is likely to be called upon to do. There’s no doubt that in the full measure of time, T/9i will be understood to be a high watermark in attainable excellence. And it is just so adaptable and forgiving; to differing room sizes, speakers from medium small to medium large, which is to say about 80% of the market out there.
It richly deserves a special edition, which it now gets and one few will likely forget. Finished in 5—ok 10 if you count the spray technique we use, which is both a full horizontal spray coat PLUS a full vertical coat per one full REL coat—coats of a certain Italian manufacturer’s late ‘80’s finest red, rosso if we are to be scrupulously accurate, lacquer. At the beginning the team thought, “How hard could it be?”, especially after we obtained the correct paint codes. 14 months and at least 30 samples and over 6 generations later, very freaking difficult. As it happens, this particular paint is extremely reliant on its primer coats. And while we had locally painted samples that looked pretty close early on, getting the primers to catalyze perfectly and support the color when sprayed in production booths over MDF (not metal) turns out to be tricky. By the end of the more than a yearlong journey, we were beginning to wonder if we needed to take into account lunar phases of the moon.
But we stuck with it, eventually getting the results we needed—you know we got the color bang on when your heart catches in your throat when you take the finished article out of the box and carefully remove the soft paper bag. Screw Apple, this thing stands up to any of their stuff.
And then the next round of fun began. So the standard badge designed for use against black and white finishes looked ridiculous, screaming for something higher zoot to keep up with the gorgeous Italian red. Naturally, we returned to our favorite metal shop for triple chrome plating on a mirror-smooth badge surface—takes about two hours in the final chromate bath to obtain the deep, consistent finish we demand, and that’s after the copper and nickel baths that precede it.
So now the badge looks fantastic, but the transition between hot chrome and hot red is too… hot. It needs something cooler and yet technical to create a break between the two colliding treatments. We selected genuine carbon fibre—look elsewhere if you can accept fake carbon-vinyl wrap, I get visibly ill when I’m around it. So we got our beautiful bezel and after a few rounds of sampling the top surface—badge, bezel and paint–looks fantastic but the standard bead blasted aluminium feet then looked completely out of place.
So, I whipped up a solid carbon fibre sleeve that wraps around the entirety of the machined solid billet aluminium feet we use and about 188 trials by our constructor later (I exaggerate, it was no more than 187) we had the final, perfect article.
After all that, we are so very pleased to share our newest special offer, T/9i Red. Production is extremely limited. There will be but 3 short runs, much of the first two runs are already spoken for. Please do not hesitate. It has become customary in our industry to speak of limited runs, the jaded among us know that many of these are pure marketing puffery and that their use of the English language’s term “limited” means limited only to the number the buying public will buy. This is very much not the case here. If you love it as much as we have come to, order yours quickly. They will not last. Thank you for joining us on this and many other journeys.
John Hunter, Chief Designer.
P.S. Many thanks to Alex, our CEO, for keeping this project alive and on task and backing my ridiculous lust for producing things achingly beautiful that will produce relatively little economic benefit. He understands that these projects are occasionally necessary for the soul of the company to remain special, vibrant and different from everyone else. And to Justin, our Chief Engineer, who labors at so many tasks behind the scenes to help bring you my special brand of OCD insanity. Thank you for being the old hot rodder that you are, couldn’t have done it without you. And my partner in design crime Ryan who takes my sketches and returns back, beautifully rendered in 3D complete with light playing off the various surfaces, works of industrial art.